Слике страница

law, and the women and children in stores did not secure the protection the law intended. In 1908 the legislature passed laws giving the enforcement of the mercantile law in cities of the first class to the labor commissioner, who organized a separate bureau in charge of a mercantile inspector and eight deputies, later increased to nine. Even with this small force, inspection during the next four years revealed widespread non-compliance with the law. Thousands of children were found illegally employed, but with even a few inspectors to cover the three largest cities of the state, the labor commissioner secured considerable improve-ment. The factory investigating commission in 1913 found the conditions outside of cities of the first class so unsatisfactory that upon its recommendation the legislature subsequently took away the jurisdiction of the local boards of health over mercantile establishments in secondclass cities, and added it to that of the labor department. In 1914 the mercantile inspection division of the labor department, then covering cities of the first and second class, made 27,116 inspections, and estimated that these inspections represented roughly on the average about 18 persons affected by the law for each inspection; it covered in addition 913 inspections made on complaint. How inadequate this inspection is may be seen from the fact that there are doubtless a hundred thousand mercantile establishments in New York City alone, and many aspects of the mercantile law apply to bowling alleys and places of amusement, with which the department can only deal on complaint, unless it is furnished with a very large staff of inspectors. It is difficult to say how far the department has proven itself efficient in developing ingenious plans of so-called "sample inspections" in selected areas, which, if followed by vigorous prosecution, might serve to strike terror in the ranks of the violators of the law. Such a plan would depend, of course, for its success upon the magistrates and courts backing up the department and punishing violations with prompt and severe sentences, and this they have not done. On the contrary, the department has been greatly hampered, not merely by the legislature failing to supply adequate appropriations for enough inspectors, but by the indifference and lack of support of the magistrates and courts.

Home Work

The operations of the division for the inspection of home work have been even less satisfactory, from the point of view of any guarantee. that the purposes of the law are being accomplished. The report of the commissioner of labor for 1913 gives an account of the work of this division, as far as the regulation of work done in tenement houses in Greater New York goes. There were outstanding on October 1, 1913, 11,183 licenses; during the previous year, 1,587 licenses were cancelled, and 198 revoked for sanitary causes. There does not seem to be the

necessary co-operation with the health authorities, inasmuch as this inspection of tenement houses has to do primarily with sanitary conditions. If home-work inspection were transferred to the corps of ordinary sanitary inspectors, this division of the bureau in the labor department with its meagre force might be used as a flying squadron or detective bureau to supplement work which is more properly part of the duty of regular health inspection, and might eventually be left almost entirely to the health department.

The other aspect of home-work inspection which results in the detection of children who are truants from school should in like manner lead to better co-operation with the bureau of school attendance and the ultimate reliance upon the school authorities for this work without any necessity for the assistance of the labor department.

Workmen's Compensation

Where the state has assumed responsibility for the administration of a system of workmen's compensation, there exists not only the need for an administrative organization to enforce the law, but especially one that will work to prevent expense and reduce the cost of compensation to employers, as well as minimize the burdens which injured workmen must bear for which no compensation can be made. Many states, like New York, have created a separate commission or board for this purpose. In some states the commissions have purely supervisory powers and exist largely for the collection of information while the courts enforce the law. In other states, the commissions are quasi-judicial bodies and adjudicate claims.

The New York Workmen's Compensation Commission was appointed in March, 1914, and held its first meeting on March 30th. The compulsory features of the statute became effective July 1, 1914, so that the commission had but three months in which to prepare for a complex system of insurance, for which there was little experience and precedent. The business to be handled administratively comprised the industrial hazard in the greatest industrial state in the union, the annual payroll of whose workers aggregated $1,000,000,000, distributed in 180,000 employing industries and covering 2,000,000 workmen.

The law required the main office of the commission to be located at Albany, where inadequate space was obtainable. The preliminary survey indicated that three-fourths of the business of the commission would have to be done with employers and employees located within Greater New York. Therefore, a branch office of large proportions was necessarily established in this city, and has remained the principal branch office of the commission.

It was found necessary to divide the work of the commission into bureaus having to do with claims, with accounts, with the state insurance

funds and other subjects. The state was divided into nine districts and deputies located in charge of each at the following points: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, aside from the main office, Poughkeepsie, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and one each in central and lower New York City districts. One additional deputy was appointed, but not assigned, and on January 1, 1915, an additional deputy was appointed and assigned to the main office, thus making 11 in all. These serve as representatives of the commission in the different sections of the state to explain the provisions of the law, to exercise delegated judicial functions and to expedite the handling of claims through advice and through the direction of the investigators in each district office. There was attached a hearing stenographer, an interpreting clerk, a stenographic-filing clerk, a representative of the state insurance fund and a junior clerk or page, whose salaries, together with that of the deputy and the rent of the office aggregate about $10,000 per year. Work increased in some offices to an extent that required the appointment of an assistant deputy, and five such assistant deputies were placed where most needed. Thirteen hundred cases were referred to deputies, for investigation and hearing, prior to February 1, 1915, the end of the period reviewed in the first annual report covering ten months of the existence of the commission. The organization of the commission is described and charted on page 269 ff. of the organization and functions report.

The commission hears claims at Albany one day a week; at Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo one day every other week, and at the New York branch office every day excepting Saturday.

Deputy commissioners have heard and disposed of many calendars, thus relieving the commission for the consideration of the more difficult cases, but their findings are not binding and effective until approved by the commission itself.

The arbitration feature of the law is a dead letter and was invoked in only one case. There is, however, an element of arbitration in the public hearings.

The medical division is closely related to the claims division and consists of three physicians, one of whom is medical adviser to the state insurance fund, the other two confining their work to claims to be paid by other insurance carriers. The division has a surgical staff for examination of claims, which is done at the request of the claimants or on motion of the commission or at the request of the claims department, and is the best agency for determining the nature and extent of disability. The division also examines reports of attending physicians and passes on fee bills of attending physicians. One result of the compensation laws has been the installation by employers of first aid equipment at trifling cost. Probably 70 per cent. of all accidents are preventable.

In the New York office over 2,000 physical examinations of claimants have been made, and claim papers have been examined for diagnosis and time of disability to the number of 3,010.

The legal bureau has had 79 cases on appeal in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court; 95 cases in which complaints were made that employers failed to provide compensation insurance; 227 cases in which awards had been made and the employers had no insurance which cases were referred to legal department for collection of award; 49 cases against railroad companies involving questions of the law of interstate commerce; 207 miscellaneous claims referred for opinion.

The commission reports that the State Insurance Fund is operating satisfactorily, and the commission hopes that no legislation will be enacted to hinder the extension of the State Insurance Fund, which, notwithstanding its inability to command solicitors and the usual instruments of business acquisition, has done more business than any other insurance carrier except one.

The actuarial bureau has work wholly connected with the work of the State Insurance Fund, and the statistical bureau analyzes claims to discover causes of accidents and analyzes costs.

Duplication of Inspection and of Work

Inasmuch as the adequacy of enforcement of most of the labor law depends entirely on the completeness and efficiency of regular systematic inspection by disinterested and well-trained officials, the charge of duplication is all the more serious. Already there is ample ground for this charge to be found in an analysis of the work of the factory inspection bureau, and the inspection department of the Workmen's Compensation Commission. And this duplication will become more serious as the inspection department of the Workmen's Compensation Commission becomes better organized. The administrative problems in the enforcement of many of the general provisions of the labor law and those of the compensation law are identical. They have a common purpose also in seeking to bring about prevention as their major task, rather than merely the detection of crime or violations. There is also duplication of work in the reporting of accidents and certain statistical information which it is necessary to ask employers to furnish the authorities who administer the general labor laws and those who are dealing with the matter of compensation for industrial accident. Where separate authorities have been set up in other states the desire for the elimination of the duplication referred to has led to a consolidation of the inspectional work of those departments. A recent report of a legislative commitfee in Missouri (December, 1914), recommending the enactment of a compensation law also suggested the creation of an industrial commission to administer it and the other labor laws of the state jointly. Among other things, the

committee says: "With the enactment of a workman's compensation law comes a duty to provide the machinery for reducing as far as possible the number of industrial accidents and correspondingly reducing their hardships to employees and their cost to employers. For some time there has been the feeling that in equipping their plants employers had been paying too little attention to accident prevention, and it is only within the last few years that special study and inventive genius has been devoted to this field * * * The body fitted to prescribe safety rules. and regulations is the body which, through factory inspection and daily hearings of accident cases, would know from actual experience what is reasonable and proper."*

Inadequate Machinery and Powers of Existing Agencies

The number of inspectors to cover all the establishments and conditions with which the labor department has to deal, always has been and probably always will be inadequate. Therefore the greater is the need for improvement in the organization and skill in the supervision of their work. The educational work of the inspector and the publicity given to the law and to demonstrations of its reasonableness in language that every employer and employee can understand, become increasingly important as the work of the department becomes more complex and difficult. Not only is the present lack of consolidation of functions in the industrial board and the office of the commissioner of labor incomplete and inadequate but two definite tasks for the proper fulfillment of the industrial relations function are specially weak and partially unprovided for. These are first, the protection of employers and employees, or the function of rendering aid to employees who have reasonable claims against employers or are the victims of exploitation and injustice at the hands of strong corporate organizations of employers, and likewise the function of rendering aid to individual employers in determining the legality of the tactics and acts of trade unions and strong corporate organizations of employees when they exceed their legal rights and try to oppress or intimidate the employer. Secondly, the provision for industrial councils either state-wide for industry as a whole or for separate or local industries according to trades or geographical areas, for the purpose of bringing face to face the partisan representatives of employers' and employees' organizations and placing before them for discussion and advice the plans of the labor department in the interpretation and enforcement of the law, also proposals of rules and orders extending and applying the labor law to specific cases. Both of these tasks are partially provided for, the first through the industrial and immigration bureau of the department of labor,

*For this and other evidence of similar import, see brief in support of industrial commission bill submitted by American Association for Labor Legislation to Governor Whitman at a public hearing on the Spring Bill, May 5, 1915.

« ПретходнаНастави »